Indonesian Prefixes

If you're trying to learn Indonesian Prefixes which is also called Bahasa Indonesia, check our courses about Prefixes and their table of variations... to help you with your Indonesian grammar. Try to concentrate on the lesson and notice the pattern that occurs each time the word changes its place. Also don't forget to check the rest of our other lessons listed on Learn Indonesian. Enjoy the rest of the lesson!


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Indonesian Prefixes

Prefix is an affix attached to the front of a root word that creates a new word. Indonesian uses several prefixes below :

 

Base

Variation

Ber-

 

Di-

 

Me-

Me-

Men-

Mem-

Meng-

Meny-

Menge-

Pe-

Pe-

Pem-

Pen-

Peng-

Penge-

Peny-

Se-

 

Ter-

 

 

Ber-

Ber- is used to construct a verb that means “doing something, being something, have something, or having a certain attribute”.

 

Example :

Berbahaya (dangerous)           = ber+bahaya (danger)

Berasal (originated)                 =ber+asal (origin)

 

 

Me-

 

Usage 1 : to construct a verb from a noun.

 

Example :

mengebom       (to bomb)        = menge+bom (bomb)

mengelap         (to wipe)          = menge+lap (wipe)

 

Usage 2: to indicate that the subject of a statement is the one doing the action of the verb

 

Example :

 

Saya melihat anjingmu            = I see your dog

meihat = me+lihat

 

The word “Lihat” is already a verb, meaning “to see”. Here we add the prefix “me” to indicate that “I” am the one who see the dog.

 

 

 

Other examples:

Membuat (to make)     = mem+buat

Melihat (to see)           = me+lihat

 

Menuai (to harvest)     = men+tuai (the T is dropped)

Menabur (to sow)        = men+tabur (the T is dropped)

 

Menyamar (to disguise/undercover) = meny+samar (the S is dropped)

 

Important!

 

Memarkir (to park)      = mem+parkir

Memasang (to put)      = mem+pasang

Memaksa (to force)     = mem+paksa

 

As you see, the initial P is dropped. But in these examples, the initial P is not dropped.

 

Memperkosa (to rape) = mem+perkosa

Memperbaiki (to fix)   = mem+perbaiki

 

Even I don’t know the exact rule for this J but for most cases, the P is dropped. This is also occurred with other letter than P.

 

Me- has six variation depend on the first letter of the root word which they are attached.

 

Me-      is used when the following word is started with L, M, N, R, W, Y

Meng- is used when the following word is started with G, H, K or vowels.

Mem-   is used when the following word is started with B F P

Men-    is used when the following word is started with C, D, Z, and T

Meny- is used when the following word is started with S

Menge- is used when the following word is consisted from one syllable only

 

 

Di-

This prefix is related to me- prefix above. While the me- indicates that the subject is the actor who doing an action , the di- indicates that the subject is the object of an action. A sentence with me+verb is called active sentence, and di+verb is called passive sentence.

 

Example:

Bola dilempar (oleh) Susanti   = The ball is being thrown by Susanti.

Susanti melempar bola            = Susanti throws the ball.

 

 

 

“oleh” is a direct translation of “by”, and may optionally dropped in informal case.

 

Important!

There is also a word “di” to indicate place (in, at, to, and on). This is a word, not an affix, and hence should not be attached to other word. But many Indonesians incorrectly attach it to other word.

 

Example:

 

Kucing sedang tidur di atas meja (the cat is sleeping on the table)

 

is often incorrectly written as

 

Kucing sedang tidur diatas meja

 

In most cases, the di- prefix is followed by a verb, while the word  “di” is followed by an adverb.

 

Ter-

 

Usage 1 : as a superlative, same as English word “the most, or suffix -est”. This ter- is always attached to an adjective.

 

Example:

 

Terbaik (best)              = ter+baik(good)

Terkecil (smallest)       = ter+kecil (small)

Terbesar (biggest)        = ter+besar (big)

Tercantik (most beautiful)       = ter+cantik(beautiful)

 

Usage 2 : as passive form, similar to di- prefix, but used when the actor is not important. In most cases, it is same as the English –ed suffix (or past tense form).

 

Example :

 

Terbatas (limited)        = ter+batas (limit)

Terbentuk (formed)     = ter+bentuk (form)

Bumi terbentuk tiga milyar tahun yang lalu = The earth is formed three billions years ago.

 

 

Se-

 

Se- prefix is used as substitution for the word “satu” (one).

 

Example:

 

Seribu              = satu ribu (one thousand)

Sekelas            = satu kelas (one class)

Seragam          = satu ragam (one variety)

 

 

Pe-

 

Pe- prefix is similar to “-er” suffix in English.

 

Usage 1 : if attached to a verb, this prefix is used to form a noun that indicates a person or thing that do the verb.

 

Example :

 

Pemakan (eater)          = pe+makan(eat)

Pembuat (maker)         = pem+buat (make)

Pencetak (printer)        = pen+cetak (print)

 

Usage 2 : if attached to an adjective, this prefix is used to form a noun that has the quality or attribute inherent in the adjective.

 

Example :

 

Pemanas (heater)         = pem+panas (heat)

Pendingin (cooler)       = pen+dingin (cool)

 

Prefixes and their variations have a very important role in Indonesian. Once you're done with the Bahasa Indonesia Prefixes, you might want to check the rest of our Indonesian lessons here: Learn Indonesian. Don't forget to bookmark this page.


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